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Biden aims to deter China with greater US military presence in the Philippines

Biden aims to deter China with greater US military presence in the Philippines


WASHINGTON President Biden and his aides have tried to reassure Chinese leaders that they are not seeking to contain China the way the Americans did with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

But Thursday’s announcement that the US military is expanding its presence in the Philippines leaves little doubt that the US is positioning itself to constrain China’s armed forces and bolster their ability to defend Taiwan.

The announcement, made in Manila by Lloyd J. Austin III, the US Secretary of Defense, was just the latest in a series of moves by the Biden administration to strengthen military alliances and partnerships in the region. Asia-Pacific in order to counter China, especially as tensions over Taiwan increase.

That’s a very big finding, said Jacob Stokes, senior fellow for the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Society and an adviser to Mr. Biden when he was vice president. You can better massage the forces and project the power if you can rotate in these places in the Philippines.

He added that the larger military presence sends a deterrent message to China.

Under Mr. Biden, the United States is working to strengthen its military ties with Australia, Japan and India, and it has led the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to expose potential threats from the China.

Mr. Austin’s announcement signals that the United States could use its own armed forces to repel more harshly the aggressive actions of the Chinese military in the South China Sea, where China and several Southeast Asian countries – East, including the Philippines, have territorial disputes. More importantly, they could help Taiwan if the People’s Liberation Army were to attack or invade the democratic and self-governing island, which China considers part of its territory.

Mr Biden has said four times that the US military will defend Taiwan in the event of a conflict, but his aides insist that US policy has not changed. Since the United States ended official diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979, it has avoided declaring whether it would deploy military forces to defend Taiwan, a position commonly referred to as strategic ambiguity.

A congressional mandate requires every presidential administration to donate weapons of a defensive nature to Taiwan, and Mr. Bidens’ team intends to accelerate that and shape the sales packages so that Taiwan becomes a porcupine than China would be afraid to attack.

Military ties between the United States and the Philippines

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A complex alliance. The United States and the Philippines announced a deal that would give US forces access to four more military sites in the Southeast Asian country, creating the largest US military presence in decades. Here’s what you need to know:

Colonial heritage. The Philippines, which signed the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States in 1951, was once home to some of the largest US military installations overseas. But many Filipinos saw this arrangement as a vestige of American colonialism. In 1992, the United States left its last base in the country, after street protests and the decision of the Philippine Senate to end the military presence of the Americas.

Meaning of Agreement. US officials say access to the Philippines’ northernmost islands is crucial to countering China in the event of an attack on Taiwan, the island democracy that Beijing claims as its territory. The new deal could also have implications in the South China Sea, home to some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

A larger US military presence in the Philippines would go beyond that, it would make it much easier for US troops to move quickly through the Taiwan Strait. The Philippine archipelago sits in an arc south of Taiwan, and bases there would be critical launch and supply points in a war with China. Itbayat Island, the northernmost island in the Philippines, lies less than 100 miles from Taiwan.

The United States is counting on Japan, which like the Philippines is a military ally, to be the bulwark on Taiwan’s northern flank. Mr Biden promised Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last month that the Americans would help strengthen the Japanese military.

Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, spoke by telephone with Eduardo M. Ao, his counterpart in Manila, on January 17 to discuss the military cooperation agreement between the two nations and the sites to the Philippines for U.S. equipment and troops, a senior Biden administration official said. Mr. Sullivan reached out just days after Mr. Ao took office.

That conversation built on a meeting Mr. Biden had with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. Marcos took office last June, and he said he plans to push back against China’s claims in the South China Sea.

It was a valuable conversation for them to take stock of the alliance and plan how we will strengthen it, Sullivan said Thursday evening.

The announcement in Manila by Mr. Austin came just before Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken was to visit China in the first visit by a head of the US State Department since 2018. This moment could be interpreted by Chinese leaders as a signal. that the top US political priority in the region is working with allies and partners to rein in China, rather than stabilizing relations with Beijing.

The US side, out of selfish interest, clings to the zero-sum game mentality and continues to strengthen military deployment in the Asia-Pacific, Mao Ning, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a meeting. press conference in Beijing on Thursday. This would aggravate tensions and endanger peace and stability in the region. Countries in the region must remain vigilant and avoid being coerced or used by the United States

The new agreement allows the United States to put military equipment and build facilities in no less than nine locations across the Philippines, which would lead to the largest American military presence there in 30 years.

This is an opportunity to increase our efficiency, to increase interoperability. It is not a permanent base, Austin said in Manila. It’s a big problem. It’s a really big deal, in that, you know, it gives us the opportunity, again, to interact a little more effectively.

The last American soldiers left the Philippines in the 1990s, and the country’s constitution now prohibits foreign troops from being permanently based there.

In November, a Filipino general identified five possible sites for the accord. Thursday’s announcement mentioned nine, although Mr. Austin and his aides did not publicly specify where the four additional sites would be located. Randall Schriver, former assistant secretary of defense for the Asia-Pacific region, said in an interview that he believes the four sites are on the northern island of Luzon in the southwestern province of Palawan and are part of of the former US military installation at Subic. Bay.

Schriver added that the Pentagons’ goal is to get at least one site that each of the U.S. armed services that the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force could use as a point of contact. reinforcement, if necessary. It wouldn’t just be airbases, and the big question is how many builds would be needed to get each one ready.

The sites would likely be incorporated into the U.S. military’s regional exercise schedule as soon as possible, and the Pentagon could leave equipment behind rather than return it to its bases, Schriver said.

The deal expands the Pentagons’ forward presence in the Indo-Pacific region in addition to forces in Australia, South Korea, Japan and Guam, military officials said.

The sites could potentially be used for a wide range of missions such as joint military training, disaster relief and humanitarian efforts, and combined exercises, spokesman Lt. Col. Martin J. Meiners said. of the Ministry of Defence.

One of the most important activities at the bases would likely be the logistics of storing fuel, ammunition, spare parts and equipment, current and former military officials, some of whom served in the Philippines, said.

Pentagon officials said Thursday that the military was working out the details of how many US military forces would be located on bases at any given time, how long those duty rotations would last, and what the troops would do once they were there. they would be there. .

By adding to the Pentagons’ extensive logistics network, the deal makes it harder for an enemy to target US supply hubs in the region.

Logistics wins battles, campaigns and wars, said David Maxwell, a retired Army Green Beret commander who served in the Philippines.

In the early 1990s, the United States had nearly 6,000 troops permanently based in the Philippines. Officials said under the new base plan, that figure would be significantly lower, with a mix of US uniformed service members, US civilian contractors and local Filipino contractors and security personnel.

Our actual presence will be very limited and temporary, said Joseph H. Felter, a former senior Pentagon official on Southeast Asia who now directs Stanford University’s Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation.

In other parts of the world where US forces are temporarily based, such as Iraq, Syria and Somalia, military deployments of six months to a year are common, but tour lengths vary, officials said.

In any war, operations and supply bases would be among the first targets an enemy would try to hit. Mr Maxwell said the key to the success of the bases will be the type of air and missile defense systems deployed to protect them against possible Chinese ballistic or cruise missile attacks, or against warplanes dropping guided bombs precision.

If China tries to take action with its missile arsenal to eliminate locations where US forces are projecting, it now has more targets to manage, Stokes said. China has a large arsenal of missiles and many aircraft, but this still poses a bigger problem for them.




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